Baby Hints & Tips

Water play

water play for kids - inspiring ideas to cool your kids and keep them engagaedExpert tips by Jan Jones (Early Childhood Educator)

 

Water play for babies (0 – 18 months)

  • Bathing – allow baby to stretch and kick. Stroke baby smoothly talking about body parts.
  • Wading pool (closely supervised at all times).
  • Squeeze bottle with water.
  • Sponges and water – to feel and mouth
  • Face washers (wet face washer twisted tightly and then frozen makes a great reliever when child is teething – just give it to child to suck on. Keep some in plastic bags in your freezer).
  • Older baby – give plastic containers, funnels, cups, small pieces of wood, squeeze toys, sponges and corks for floating and pouring.

Water play for toddlers (18 months – 3 years)

  • As above, plus …
  • Play in bath or kitchen sink.
  • Lux soap flakes and water mixing with wooden spoons and whisks.
  • Painting with water buckets and brush or painting tray and roller.
  • Sponges/water/soap.
  • Washing dolls, tables, doll’s clothes, plastic dishes. Use a large plastic bowl on a towel on floor or on a low table.
  • Mud and water – imaginative play.
  • Bubble blowing.
  • Squeeze bottles.
  • Hose – turn on to a trickle and let the toddler feel the water and wave the hose around. Make sure you check on whether water restrictions allow use of a hose.
  • Filling and emptying containers and buckets.
  • Bowls of water and teapots on the grass.
  • Washing hands – nailbrush, sponges, soap.
  • Walk in the rain in gumboots and raincoat.
  • Watering the garden.
  • Large ice cubes (freeze ice-cream containers of water) allowed to melt in a container. Can add colours to ice cubes if desired and also small plastic items that will appear as blocks defrost.

Water play for preschoolers (3 – 6 years)

  • As above, plus …
  • Spray bottles.
  • Eye droppers, food dye and water.
  • Washing of any kind – dishes, clothes, car.
  • Water with pretend play tea-sets, etc.
  • Water in the sandpit.
  • Aqua play set, assorted pipes, funnels, water wheels.
  • Floating objects – boats, corks, etc.
  • Paint rollers, buckets, brushes.
  • Baby bath or wading pool (carefully supervised).
  • Water and soil mixing to make mud.
  • Coloured water in containers.
  • Bubble pipes/makers and bubble mix.
  • Cleaning jobs – wiping tables, washing toys. (10% vinegar solution in spray bottle to help with disinfection).
  • Mopping up spills – cut-down mops (short handles).
  • Pouring from one container to another.
  • Making showers with a hose up high or fountains with containers stacked on top of one another.

Simple home-made water play scoop or funnel

Cut a plastic milk or juice bottle so that it forms a scoop. Leave lid on to scoop water or remove to use as a funnel. Two litre bottles with a handle make a scoop that is very easy to use.  

This scoop can also be used for sand play.

Value of water play for the child

  1. Lots of experimenting  and using own ideas – sinking, floating, making boats, pouring, filling, emptying.
  2. It is an open-ended activity – there is no correct way to play with any of these items as long as the child is adequately supervised.
  3. Soothing and relaxing – useful to guide children to if they are becoming frustrated with other activities.
  4. Water is a satisfying natural play activity.

Do your kids enjoy playing in the water?

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